LONDON — Since making its debut in 2014, footwear label Malone Souliers’ bold color combinations and simple, clean lines have become a red carpet and influencer favorite, and a hit at retail, with the brand selling through more than 300 doors.
Now, with founder Mary Alice Malone back at the creative helm and a men’s line set to launch in November, the brand is seeking further growth and exploring opportunities in the U.S.
“The U.S. is now our main priority; it’s an incredible luxury market so it would be very natural to grow there. We’ve really held back in approaching the market but now it’s time,” said Malone, who was born in Pennsylvania and has now moved back to the U.S., although the brand’s headquarters remain in London.
“Being American and now living here, it just makes sense. Our very first partner was Bergdorf Goodman and we have really grown with them. Now we’re adding some new partners and expanding in other key doors like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.”
Malone is planning to apply to this year’s CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund as another step in establishing the brand’s presence in the American market. She is also debuting a collaboration with New York Fashion Week’s latest darling, Deveaux.
“I am embracing my American-ness. It’s an incredible group of people, so it’s an honor to be able to apply and even get exposure to all of them,” she said of her participation in the CFDA’s yearly initiative.
The tie-in with Deveaux will make its debut on the runway during the brand’s spring 2020 show and will feature flat mules in muted, earthy hues.
“I’m really excited for those shoes to make their way into the world. It’s a different product for us. Tommy [Ton, Deveaux’s creative director] has this very effortless view of how women should dress, so it was lovely to do something that’s more pared back and just super chic and easy,” added Malone, who has long been a big advocate of collaborations with ready-to-wear designers.
“As a creative, you need other creative input. I really enjoy seeing how each of our collaborators looks at shoes and how they make them work with their clothes to complement their vision.”
The label has an ongoing collaboration with Roksanda, and will be debuting a new tie-in with up-and-comer Richard Malone in London (no relation to her), which comes in the form of color-blocked pumps and thigh-high boots that complement the young designer’s flair for bold, loud patterns.
Malone has always had a product-first approach, to which she credits the label’s rapid growth.
“I basically spent a better part of the past four years in the shoe factories in Italy working. So I hope that I’ve spent a lot of time creating a product that is comfortable, that is very well-made and can go out and speak for itself,” she said, adding that while her focus will always remain on her craft, she also now sees more room “for the brand to come into its own” and ensure longevity with stronger branding and communications.
She is keen to continue introducing new styles and ideas. For spring 2020, more platforms and statement pieces have been added to the mix so the brand remains agile and does not have to rely on a single signature style.
“You have to keep growing, you have to keep innovating and if you grow out of some of your signatures at some point, hopefully, you’ve just created new signatures to build their place.”
Growing the brand’s own sales channels is another natural next step for the designer: At the end of last year she appointed Steven Hope, who has a strong e-commerce background, as chief executive officer. She continues to explore wholesale growth in key territories such as the U.S. and China.
Malone’s return to the creative helm follows her former business partner Roy Luwolt’s exit from the business. Luwolt left to pursue other creative projects last December.